Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Tearfund home

Is this the year that makes or breaks the plastics treaty?

Will we see the change we need from the next two rounds of the UN plastic treaty talks? The pressure is rising…

14 Feb 2024

A waste picker collects plastic bottles at the dump at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, at twilight. Image: Daniel Msirikale/Tearfund

A waste picker collects plastic bottles at the dump at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, at twilight. Image: Daniel Msirikale/Tearfund.

Throughout 2023, more than 150 countries have been gathering to negotiate a global plastics treaty. This work will continue in 2024 and, with just weeks to go until the next round of talks, we ask: where have we seen progress, how are some countries resisting meaningful action, and what can you do to help?

When the first draft of the treaty was released before the third round of negotiations (INC-3) in November 2023, it was encouraging to see that all of our key asks remained as options. However, with progress repeatedly delayed, they remain just that – options. We need to continue pushing for them to be included in the final treaty text if it really is going to tackle the impacts of plastic pollution on those living in poverty.

Sign the petition

Find out more

Coordinated resistance

At INC-3 in Nairobi, we saw a well coordinated attempt to block progress towards a strong, legally binding plastics treaty. A new coalition of fossil fuel- and plastic-producing countries were able to prevent an updated draft treaty being prepared, and to block plans for further formal work to take place before the next round of talks. Without this work, the chances of a strong plastics treaty grow slimmer.

There is a real risk that this coalition of ‘low ambition’ countries will continue their efforts to resist a strong plastics treaty. Ultimately, we could see time run out on the talks this year and either countries could agree to a treaty that doesn’t actually fix the problem, or they could fail to agree on a treaty at all. With up to a million people dying each year because of mismanaged waste, we can’t afford to let this happen.

The High Ambition Coalition

The good news is that there’s an alternative answer to this group of resistant countries: the High Ambition Coalition, which formed at the very beginning of the treaty process. This coalition is a group of 64 nations, including the United Kingdom, that are committed to restraining plastic production, protecting the environment and human health, and increasing access to recycling and waste management. 

However, the bad news is that the High Ambition Coalition have gone quiet. Despite their name, they are failing to speak up collectively for an ‘ambitious’ plastics treaty. 

With the emergence of the ‘low ambition’ group of countries pushing back on progress, it’s more important than ever for the High Ambition Coalition to speak out together with boldness. We need to make sure this chance to create a world-changing, legally binding treaty does not slip through our fingers.

Rather than quietly working at the edges of the negotiations, this High Ambition Coalition could actively drive and shape the talks, taking the initiative and steering the momentum towards a truly ambitious treaty, with justice at its heart. And that could make a real difference to the lives of people in poverty and to our planet.

How can I respond?

Thank you for getting involved with the Rubbish Campaign. Every action, event, prayer and gift helps to increase the pressure on world leaders to make this opportunity count.

The High Ambition Coalition have gone quiet, and we’re worried they’ve lost their voice. But you can help them to clear their throats and speak up, by sending them a remedy they can’t ignore!

Send a Lemon

Find out more
Join us in posting the UK Government a soothing remedy – lemons, herbal tea, cough sweets – to help them find the Coalition’s lost voice before the next round of negotiations!

Share this page

Share this page to spread the word and help support those in need.

Get our email updates

Learn about our work and stay in touch with Tearfund. Hear about our news, activities and appeals by email.

Sign up now - Get our email updates

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.